IndigiGrow goes wholesale to create more jobs
This weekend! 21-22 January 2023
Sydney-based Aboriginal non-profit organisation IndigiGrow is opening a new wholesale native plant nursery that will give it room to grow its business and provide work experience for school students and apprenticeships for Aboriginal youth.
IndigiGrow, which specialises in producing native plants, including bush tucker and species from the critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS), will officially open the wholesale nursery this weekend (21-22 January) at Matraville Sports High School, Anzac Parade, Chifley, in the eastern suburbs (Bidjigal Country). On this occasion, it will be open to the public.
The Saturday will feature a joint talk with IndigiGrow CEO Peter Cooley and Gardening Australia presenter Costa Georgiadis on the benefits of native plants and a cooking demonstration by Indigenous chef and season four Master Chef contestant Mindy Woods. The nursery will be open 10.00am to 3.00pm on Saturday and Sunday for the launch.
“Having this new nursery will allow us to scale up our operations significantly and grow many more plants to meet the demands of our industry customers. It’s a way of getting more plant nurseries, landscape architects and tradespeople to consider replacing water-thirsty plants with plants that better suit the Australian climate. We want to encourage people to beautify the grounds of their homes, apartment buildings, office buildings, parks and roundabouts with native plants, which are so beautiful and easier to look after. We also hope this will encourage more wildlife and biodiversity corridors and promote sustainability,” said IndigiGrow CEO, Peter Cooley.
The new nursery is the second nursery opened by IndigiGrow, an Aboriginal-owned, run and staffed not-for-profit native plant nursery based at La Perouse. It opened a retail nursery at La Perouse Public School and an online shop five years ago. “This was a chance opportunity with unused space at the school becoming available to try new things. A plant nursery seemed a good idea for the students to learn about horticulture and the community to have jobs working on Country with traditional plants. This was the start of IndigiGrow,” said Mr Cooley.
The new wholesale nursery will supply native plants to the following: tradespeople, government gardeners and horticulturalists, garden designers, landscape architects and corporate clients as well as other nurseries. The nursery will also be open to the public on special occasions.
Mr Cooley expected the wholesale nursery to initially supply up to 100,000 native plants a year for various projects across Sydney and the plant industry with that number swelling as capacity grows. He estimated the project would create a number of full-time job opportunities for Indigenous youth while bolstering security for its existing 11 employees.
The nursery’s location at Matraville Sports High School was a bonus for the school community as IndigiGrow could provide work experience, traineeships and even jobs for students with potential green thumbs.
“Many of our young Aboriginal apprentices attended Matraville Sports High School, and they came to us through work experience arranged by the school, so we already have a great relationship with the staff. They were keen to have our nursery at the school so we could provide more opportunities for their students,” said Mr Cooley.
Public invited to the official opening
For the launch weekend, the nursery will allow the broader public to purchase native plants at wholesale prices. The two-day event will begin on Saturday with a Welcome to Country at 10.00am followed by speeches from Matraville Sports High School principal Nerida Walker and federal member for Kingsford Smith, the Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite MP.
Also speaking on Saturday will be landscape architect and ABC TV Gardening Australia presenter Costa Georgiadis, sharing his gardening wisdom around native plants. Mr Georgiadis will team up with Mr Cooley to talk about native edible plants, local endangered plants, wildlife and biodiversity, and how the wider community can support and protect the environment.
There will also be a cooking demonstration with native edibles at 1pm on Saturday. Mindy Woods, an Indigenous chef (Karkalla restaurant at Byron Bay) and a season four Master Chef contestant, will be cooking up her signature dish: kangaroo skewers with macadamia satay sauce.
Now in its fifth year, IndigiGrow is a native plant project of First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation. It has two nurseries: a retail nursery at La Perouse Public School and the second, a new wholesale trade nursery at Matraville Sports High School, which opens in January 2023. IndigiGrow also has an online shop at
IndigiGrow specialises in the propagation, growing and reviving of Australian native plants and bushfood, especially species from the critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS). It aims to empower, educate and engage Indigenous youth in culture, and connection to Country and teaches them how to care for Country, helping them make positive choices for the future.
From its humble beginnings, IndigiGrow has blossomed from two employees to seven full-time apprentices and three senior staff. The team facilitates volunteering and education sessions for corporates, garden clubs, schools and other groups. Over five years, it has delivered hundreds of community education sessions, developed 15 partnerships with local organisations and businesses, and provided meaningful and culturally safe employment for Indigenous people.
IndigiGrow also educates the broader community about the benefits of growing local endangered plant species and how people can help restore the ESBS community by nurturing native plants in their gardens and yards.
About First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation
A social enterprise and charity started 10 years ago by Peter Cooley and Sarah Martin, First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation works to build resilient Indigenous people, communities and businesses. It promotes culture, employment and economic development opportunities for First Nations people.
In its time, First Hand Solutions has established IndigiGrow, a native plant project to get Indigenous young people interested in culture, connection to Country, gardening and horticulture careers. First Hand Solutions has also created positive economic opportunities for Indigenous artists, craftspeople, designers and small business owners through two events: the National Indigenous Art Fair, held every July at Circular Quay and the eight-yearly Blak Markets, taking place at Bare Island, La Perouse and The Rocks. The organisation is based at La Perouse, Sydney on Bidjigal Country.
Program for nursery opening
Saturday 21 January
- 10am – Nursery opens, Welcome to Country
- 10.05am –10.15am – Words of welcome, IndigiGrow CEO, Peter Cooley, Nerida Walker, Principal, Matraville Sports High School
- 10.15am – Official nursery opening, Federal Member for Kingsford Smith, Matt Thistlewaite MP
- 11am – Plant talk, IndigiGrow CEO, Peter Cooley and Gardening Australia presenter Costa Georgiadis
- 1pm – Cooking demonstration – Indigenous chef, Mindy Woods from Karkalla Byron Bay and season four Master Chef contestant.
- 3pm – Nursery closes
- Sunday 22 January
- 10am – Nursery opens
- 3pm – Nursery closes
For more information: Kim Carter 0407 771 698